Saturday, December 22, 2012

Prince of Peace

"He will be called... Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end..."  - Isaiah 9:6-7a

When this prophecy was fulfilled and that Baby was born, the angels sang that it was good news for all people - glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. It's very tempting to look at the history of the world since then and despair, because there has certainly not been peace... war follows war, violence begats violence, hatred feeds and grows into more hatred. Just looking at this past year, in the U.S. and around the world, there has been terrible pain and injustice. Where is the peace? Where is this Prince and his great government that were supposed to solve everything?

I'm beginning to realize, though, that "peace" doesn't actually mean "the absence of violence." Our world - governments and societies - have ideas about what peace looks like: no more fighting, fair treatment, equality, justice, harmony. It's a peace that is between people and nations, and that is a peace worth hoping and striving for, certainly, and it's truly beautiful when we get to experience it on the smaller scales of our communities and families.

But I think the Prince of Peace had another relationship in mind; he came to bring peace and restoration to a relationship that was broken long ago... an intimacy that was shattered by sin - selfishness, disobedience, idolatry - and marred with shame and death. There was a great divide formed then, at the beginning of our world, and ever since, the Prince has longed to be reunited with his loved ones, his children.

And whether we recognize it or not, we long for that too. All the violent mess around us, that fills our history books and newspapers, is a reflection of a deeper inner storm we all have. Our hearts are restless and burdened, in turmoil over the emptiness and the ache that we feel for something to complete us, deliver us, heal us... we long for the Prince and the peace that only he can bring.

The world as a whole - all people, as it was intended - has not received the Prince of Peace, and so hatred and violence and injustice continue to affect us all. But those who have received him - allowed him to become their Prince and reign over their hearts and lives, and bring restoration with the Father - understand that his peace passes all understanding. It's the kind of peace that quiets our souls and fills us with light and hope in the midst of the darkness and trials around us. Like the might of God showing up best in our weakness, I believe the peace of God shows up best in the chaos we have to walk through in this life. It reminds us, even when our hearts are breaking and our minds are confused, that we are not alone, abandoned or forgotten.

The Wonderful Counselor is here to comfort and guide us, the Mighty God is here to fight for and strengthen us, the Everlasting Father is here to provide for and protect us... and so much more. In him we have freedom from and victory over sin and death - nothing can condemn us before him, and nothing can seperate us from him and his love. Knowing these truths, and resting in his promises... this brings the greatest peace of all.

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